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Blessed Are the Peacemakers

blessed are the peacemakers

As this historic election winds down, I am at a loss for words. I can’t articulate the emotions I have felt over the past months and especially in the past few days, as I have watched family, friends, neighbors, online acquaintances, and others butt heads and tear each other apart. The things I have read especially today (the day after the election) have hurt my heart even more. I am truly thankful the election is over and I am praying for everyone in our country.

However, while the election is over, our work has just begun. Regardless of who won, my words would be the same… I pray we will come to understand that we are all called to love and to uplift one another. God does not want to see us divided! It should be our goal and the goal of our nation to make this world a better place for everyone. We have to work together if we want to accomplish anything. We can’t let divisions keep us from what truly matters.

True progress and true peace can only happen if we become peacemakers. And so, I leave you with the words of St. Francis who said what I can’t seem to find the words to say-

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

 

May God bless you.

May God bless our country.

 

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Ink Slingers

Faithful Citizenship Decision 2016

American Flag idea

We are approximately 3 weeks away from what is arguably the most intense election cycle our country has ever dealt with. The intensity has cause divisions for some within their families, amongst their friends and within the workplace. I have seen social media bullying and name-calling over candidates and election issues. Many people I know, including many Catholics, and including myself, feel an internal, anxious struggle as we form our conscience surrounding the issues and the candidates. And so before I even touch the subject of faithful citizenship and politics, I ask you to take a moment to quiet your mind, take a deep breath, and pray:

Lord God, as the election approaches,
we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city, state, and country,
and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.
We ask for eyes that are free from blindness
so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,
one and equal in dignity,
especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.
We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,
Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.
We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.
We pray for discernment
so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word,
live your love,
and keep in the ways of your truth
as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles
and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
Prayer Before An Election, US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Sent Into the World

As Jesus Christ the Son was sent into the world by God the Father, so Christ sends us into the world (John 17:18). Christ has sent us to share God and to love and care for our neighbor. And so in a nation such as the United States, where we are blessed with the opportunity to have a voice in politics, we have a responsibility to live our Catholic faith at all times, including politics.

Living our faith is difficult in many circumstances and situations in our lives, as our sinful human nature causes us to struggle. Yet we find our strength in Christ. We find ourselves nourished by His Church and we become empowered by the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation to form our consciences to be strong Catholics living in the world.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that: [The] conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings” (CCC #1783).

And it is with these well-formed consciences that we are called to make decisions in the world, including in politics. Because when “Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them” (CCC #1786).

To help us form our consciences, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops revised their 2007 document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, in November 2015. This 37-page document is meant to assist us in discerning our political decisions as a teaching document on the political responsibility of Catholics in the United States. It is meant not to tell us who to vote for. It is meant to aid us in forming our consciences in accordance with God’s Truth. This document has been updated to include Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, and Pope Francis’ encyclicals, Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’, as well as to address recent domestic and foreign policies such as abortion, physician assisted suicide, the redefinition of marriage, ecological and environmental concerns, deadly attacks on Christians and religious minorities, religious freedom, economic policies, immigration and the refugee crisis and wars, terror and violence.

Sometimes people question if it’s appropriate for the Church to play a role in politics. However, because the Church is obligated to care for Her people, She has an obligation to teach and share moral truths that shape us in our entirety, not just the life we live when we are on parish property. Our entire selves, and at all times.

 

Political Relativism vs. Faithful Citizenship

We live in a relativistic society that tells us that ‘what is right for you is right for you and what is right for me is right for me, and that’s all okay because there’s nothing that’s absolutely right.’ 

This mindset carries over into specific political issues, even for Catholics, leading us to give more weight to some political issues over others. Except that as Catholics, we know that this mindset often causes the replacement of Truth with opinion. It becomes personal preferences swayed by our sinful nature instead of allowing ourselves to make morally conscious decisions in accordance with our faith. And as People of God we have “…the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. ‘He [man] must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters’ ” (CCC #1782).

Politically, we are sometimes confronted with situations in which making a moral decision is difficult, even with a well-formed conscience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has guidelines to help us in these situations too:

      Man is sometimes confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision       
      difficult. But he must always seriously seek what is right and good and discern the will of God
      expressed in divine law. To this purpose, man strives to interpret the data of experience and the
      signs of the times assisted by the virtue of prudence, by the advice of competent people, and by the
      help of the Holy Spirit and his gifts. Some rules apply in every case:
            —One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
            —the Golden Rule: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.”
            —charity always proceeds by way of respect for one’s neighbor and his conscience: “Thus             
                  sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ.”
      Therefore “it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble.”
      #1787-1789

And from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States:

      Aided by the virtue of prudence in the exercise of well-formed consciences, Catholics are called to             
      make practical judgments regarding good and evil choices in the political arena. There are some
      things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible
      with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to
      the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be
      rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned… It is a mistake with grave
      moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of
      individual choice… The right to life implies and is linked to other human rights—to the basic goods
      that every human person needs to live and thrive. All the life issues are connected… St. Pope John             
      Paul II explained the importance of being true to fundamental Church teachings: ‘Above all, the
      common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights— for example, the right to health,
      to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and
      fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum
      determination’ (Christifideles Laici, no. 38).

      #21, 22, 25, 26

Living our faith as Catholics and living in the world are not easy. And as we make our decisions for the November 2016 election, as we are called to do for all things, we must prayerfully discern our voting decisions. And so to close, I ask you to pray daily with me and many others, for all our currently elected officials, candidates for office in November and ballot issues to be voted on.

 

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Interested in videos or audio on Faithful Citizenship? Looking for a novena for the election? Need materials to discuss the election and Faithful Citizenship with children, teens or other adults? Visit the USCCB Faithful Citizenship website.

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Current Events Ink Slingers Jaclyn

The R-word and the D-word

University of Miami Hurricanes

I can’t help putting my two cents in response to Longhorns and Aggies can get along.  I also went to a very liberal school, the University of Miami.  I also disagree about the comments that Catholics are somehow conflicted on politics.

Ever since the shooting in Sweden I have tried to avoid violence and hate in my heart by keeping in mind what we generally have in common.  Most of the time we both want the same thing, we just have very different ways of going about it.  In order to avoid anger I remember that, for example, pro-abortion and anti-abortion both want the same thing.  They both want to protect women and children from abuse, suffering, and being controlled.  They just have different opinions about the best way to go about that.

I’m assuming the other primary issue which divides Catholics politically would be “social justice.”  Again I believe that both Republicans and Democrats (at least according to their platforms) want to help the needy and protect individual rights.  We just have very different ways of doing that.  Democrats want to redistribute wealth and promote alternative lifestyles.  Republicans want to create economic stability by cutting taxes and allowing a free market where people have freedom of opportunity.

I realize that since I am a Republican, this will be biased but I hope I have accomplished my goal of showing that I respect what Democrats are trying to accomplish.  I try to love them by seeing them as individuals with different ideas from mine rather than evil-doers (even if I really do believe they are doing evil).  However as far as I can see none of the platforms of the Republican Party conflict with Catholic values.  There is a major problem with the Democrat platform which is at the core of our belief as Catholics in the dignity of the human person.

I was really shocked to read some of the responses to Pope Benedict at World Youth Day offering forgiveness to those who have committed abortions.  Offering forgiveness is offensive now?  This article in the Slate and the comments to Jen Fulwilers article in response where so full of hate and disrespect.  I certainly can understand being furious when someone is keeping you from accomplishing what you think is right.  It is such a struggle to show kindness and generosity to those who are doing something you find repulsive.  I don’t think that offering confession at WYD is inhibiting anyone’s choice.  Do you?

When I was a student at UM, for the first time I encountered the creature I have come to know as the “liberal Catholic.”  I’ll be honest, I had never met one and never knew they existed.  I had two friends in particular who were a lawyer and a political science professor.  When the 2004 elections took place I put a Bush/Cheney poster in my window because the people I was living with had a big Kerry/Edwards sign in their yard.  My friends who were Catholics in their mid-thirties turned out to be Democrats!  I asked them “How can you be Catholic and Democrat?”  They were also confused “How can you be Catholic and Republican?”  I will admit I was, and for the most part am still, a non confrontational type so I avoid head on argument and never really engaged my friends in a debate.  However I feel I am now ready to engage in a challenging conversation that will hopefully challenge my way of thinking or at least help me to understand my fellow Catholics on the other side of the isle better.

I look forward to being educated if my understanding of these issues needs some supplementation.  I hope I have been charitable and I would invite others to do the same for me.

Go ‘Canes!!!